How Much Does It Cost to Run a Electric Space Heater? (With Calculator)

How much does it cost to run a space heater?

Space heaters cost about $0.20, or 20 cents, per hour to run. That’s for the most common size – 1,500 watts. The range is 10 cents to 42 cents, or $0.10 to $0.42 per hour for space heaters from 750 watts to 3,000 watts. The cost of electricity from your energy company affects the cost to run a space heater. You can use the cost of electricity from your electric bill in the Space Heater Cost Calculator below to determine the precise cost of running a space heater.

Space Heater Cost Calculator

Our space heater operating cost calculator is the most accurate you’ll find anywhere because it factors in the average cost of electricity in your state. And if you know what you pay for electricity – it’s on your electric bill – you can use that for the most precise answer to “how much does it cost to run a space heater?”

An explanation of each step is below the calculator.

Space Heater Cost Calculator

1. Heater Power in Watts

How much electricity does your space heater use? Almost all residential space heaters have a “ high” setting of 1,500 watts. Some also have a “low” setting of 750 watts. But you will find larger space heaters using up to 3,000 watts or more, but they are rare and quite a bit more expensive.

How much electricity does my space heater use? That common question can usually be answered by reading the information on the heater. If you’re considering buying a space heater, then the watts used should be listed in the marketing information online or on the box. The wattage should be listed on the heater itself too.

2. Running Hours per Day

How often and for how long do you use your space heater? Consider the average. If you’re running a space heater more than 10 hours a day, then you should consider alternate ways to increase heat in the space as soon as possible. See the Suggestions section below for tips on efficient heating.

3. Your State and Electric Rates by State

Select the Your State box, and scroll down to find your state. Select it, and our Space Heater Cost Calculator will automatically input the current average cost of electricity where you live into the Electric Rates by State box.

Note: If you check your energy cost on your bill and it is different from our list, you can “override” our information and input your precise electricity cost for your area. We use state averages.

4. Results

The Pick HVAC Space Heater Cost Calculator gives you an instant answer to the question – how much does it cost to run a space heater?

The results are given in Cost per Hour, and the numbers are also provided for running the heater 8 hours a day and the cost per month.

How Much Does a 1500W Space Heater Cost to Run – and Smaller / Larger?

How much does a 1500W space heater cost to run? 750W? 1,000W?

This chart gives costs based on the US Average for electric rates at this writing. They might be higher or lower where you live. Use our Cost to Run a Space Heater Calculator for the most precise costs.

Electric Space Heater Running Cost Chart:

Heater PowerCost per HourCost for 8 HoursCost for 24 Hours
750 watt$0.10$0.83$2.49
1000 watt$0.14$1.11$3.32
1200 watt$0.17$1.33$3.99
1500 watt$0.21$1.66$4.99
3000 watt$0.42$3.36$10.08

*Based on US Average Electric Rates: 13.84 Cents per Kilowatt Hour

These are maximum costs. Does your space heater have a thermostat? If it does, and the heater shuts off periodically, your hourly costs won’t be as high as shown on the chart.

Smart Space Heater Use

Heat from an electric space heater is expensive compared with natural gas heating cost or the cost of the electricity required to operate a heat pump. If you run a space heater too many hours of the day, you’ll notice an increase in your electric bill.

However, when you turn down the central source of heat in your home and use a space heater in only one or two rooms for limited times, like 6-8 hours at night, the cost is reasonable. You might also find that some rooms of your home are always cold in winter. In the short-run, using a space heater to boost the heat is OK. But the reason for those rooms being cold need to be addressed. And there are many possibilities like:

  • The furnace or heat pump is undersized
  • You have ductwork problems, so not enough warm air is reaching the room
  • The area is poorly insulated
  • These issues are addressed below.

Reducing Space Heater Cost per Hour

Your time is valuable, so here are quick tips for cutting costs with a space heater.

Turn down the central heat

This will lower the energy costs required to run your primary heat source, which will offset the cost of running the space heater.

Pro tip: We don’t recommend turning down your furnace or heat pump more than a few degrees. Why? Because if your home gets too cool, your heating system will have to work extra hard to warm it back up, and in the long run, that’s not good for the equipment. When you turn down the heat for an extended period, everything in the house cools down – the walls, furniture, floors, etc. And that all has to be heated back up.

Add insulation where needed

When your home is properly insulated, everything stays warmer longer, and you might find you need less use of the space heater. In terms of cost, starting with cheapest, here are ways to make your space more energy efficient.

  • Use weatherstripping around doors and windows that leak air
  • Add insulation to the attic if you have one
  • Install house wrap like Tyvek the next time you replace the siding on your home
  • Replace old doors and windows with insulated units – some windows are Energy Star certified

Upgrade your heating equipment when the time comes

If parts of your home are too cold in winter and too warm in summer, your HVAC equipment might be undersized, or there could be issues with the ductwork. It could be a simple issue like knowing which heat vents to open and close at different parts of the year.

Make sure the HVAC contractor you choose does a load calculation for sizing the equipment and inspects the ductwork to make sure it is the right size.

Also, choose an energy efficient system. If you upgrade a 12 SEER heat pump, for example, to a 16 SEER model, you’ll reduce energy use by 33%.

Does it Cost Less to Run an Infrared Heater?

No…but maybe yes.

Most infrared space heaters are 1,500 watts, so they use the same amount of electricity per hour as standard space heaters.

The one difference is that an infrared heater warms up objects rather than space. So, you can get warm more quickly if you sit directly in front of the heater. You’ll feel the warmth, like the sun shining on you on a cool day, even if the air around you isn’t very warm.

In short, you can use a little less energy with an infrared heater because it will warm you up more quickly.

Written by

Rene has worked 10 years in the HVAC field and now is the Senior Comfort Specialist for PICKHVAC. He holds an HVAC associate degree and EPA & R-410A Certifications.

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